Czech 2003 Prospects: Matej Trojovsky

By Robert Neuhauser

Not many people in Czech hockey want young prospects to leave early and make their way through North American junior leagues. Staying in Europe is helpful for some like Martin Havlat while the likes of Rostislav Klesla or Josef Vasicek benefitted from going over as soon as possible. One who belongs to the second group is Matej Trojovsky, a defenseman of the WHL’s Regina Pats.

Matej Trojovsky was brought to hockey by both his father and older brother Jakub, who also pursued a hockey career and even captained the Plzen junior team. Their dad wanted his sons to be succesfull in some sport and directed their steps to the hockey arena in their native city Plzen, Czech Republic when it was time to begin their careers. The little Matej saw that his brother is a skilled player, so he wanted to compete with him and prove that he is the better one. After his older brother he got his first nickname ‘Trosky’, which comes from his surname. But first he had to get enrolled to the Plzen entry level team. That happened already when Trojovsky was four years old and his career had a green light.

Seeing the lanky kid, the coaches put Trojovsky on defense, where his size served as an immediate advantage. Trojovsky didn’t worry too much about it, he was happy with keeping the forwards off the scoring chances and called the blue line his home.
He was always willing to listen to the advice of the coaches and soon Trojovsky emerged as one of the best players of his team. The coaches made it clear to him that he can make his size work to his advantage and develop the physical aspect of his game. Trojovsky was working out a lot in his free time and soon he could outmsucle the opposition. He also took home the trophies for the Best defenseman from various youth tournaments where his team participated. From that time Trojovsky prefers to wear low digits on his jersey, he is most happy with either number 4 or 3 on his back.

In the 6th grade team under head coach Ladislav Sedlacek, Matej Trojovsky was voted captain and he also filled in on the 8th grade team of Plzen coached by Frantisek Cerny and then in the 9th grade coached by Zdenek Pata. At that time he was already preparing for the leap to the midget Extraleague, he felt that he is mature enough to do well and his play contributed to this.

No wonder that the 1999-2000 season Trojovsky spent already on the midget level. Plzen midgets head coach Vladimir Bednar couldn’t oversee the talent the towering blueliner Trojovsky displayed on the 9th grade level and promoted him to the midget team to perform in the midget Extraleague. Coach Bednar liked what he saw from him at the summer camp of the team and provided Trojovsky with a lot of playing time. This boosted his confidence a lot and Matej looked very composed on the ice, even if he was just playing his rookie campaign. The whole team registered a terrific season which resulted into the third place overall in the midget Extraleague. Matej Trojovsky contributed to this achievment with 41 games played and 16 points for 2 goals and 14 assists, finishing second on the team’s defensemen scoring.

He participated at the selection tournament for the new Czech Under-16 team, where he faced tough competition with the likes of current NHL draftees Martin Vagner, Ondrej Nemec, Marek Chvatal or Martin Cizek also challenging for a spot on the team. Because of the deep pool of players ready to face the international competition, two Under-16 teams were formed. Matej Trojovsky was sent to the Under-16 B team where he was invited to two tournaments. Both were three-game series against the Under-16 team of Switzerland, in which Trojovsky went scoreless.

Trojovsky practiced with the Plzen midget team also during the summer prior to the 2000-2001 season, but in late August he was headed North America to start his career in the USHL. Matej Trojovsky even performed in a three-game series against the Under-17 team of Germany, but still didn’t register an international point.

After that he found himself aboard a plane to the United States, where the USHL Lincoln Stars should become his new team. His agent Jaromir Henys, who works for the TSC corporation of Rich Winter and Rich Evans, reached an agreement with the Stars about Trojovsky’s arrival. He soon felt comfortable in Lincoln. The teammates gave him the nickname ‘Czech’ and he was ready to show what he is capable of. Unfortunately in the first home game he suffered a concussion which forced him to sit out four weeks. After he finally was healthy he had a tough time getting back to the lineup because he was the only rookie on defense and had to cope with the problems of the transition to another playing style, culture and life.

Head coach Steve Johnson put him into the lineup for 17 games, in one Trojovsky scored his first and only USHL goal, which remained his only point, too. The opponents could have a taste of Trojovsky’s toughness with 78 PIMs, a sign that the North American playing style suits him well. For the remainder of the season he was sent to the Utah Valley Golden Eagles to play Junior B. Trojovsky played just three games there, a bit funny was that even then he earned a nomination to the All-Star team. And at the All-Star event he won the Hardest Shot competition with a 90 mph blast.

Trojovsky is a reliable stay-at-home defenseman who wants to have his defensive duties done first before he thinks about joining the rush. Thanks to his size 6’4.5”, 220 lbs, he emerges as an intimidating physical presence. Trojovsky is a hard hitter and likes to play with an edge. He can jumpstart his team with a fight when needed. Also a good crease clearer, Trojovsky boasts a cannon of a shot. His rockets from the point could be more accurate. A big guy, Trojovsky still could use better skating skills and therefore more mobility, which would make him more effectively. He is now trying to develop the offensive aspect of his game and reached a particular success, even if his passing skills and offensive play have still a long way to go. Blessed with an average vision and hockey sense Trojovsky looks like a longshot to play in the NHL, he has to keep progressing at a steady pace.

In summer 2001 the CHL Import Draft awaited Trojovsky. The Regina Pats picked him with their first pick, 43rd overall in the first round. The Pats already had defenseman Filip Novak on the roster and now they had another Czech rearguard on their hands, but of a different playing style. When the 2001-2002 season began Trojovsky had a more smoother adjustment to the CHL than the other European players because he already knew what it takes to succeed in North America. He played his hard-nosed defensive play and was willing to jump into tough fights, but didn’t contribute offensively a lot. Filip Novak helped him to hone his skills and show Trojovsky some of his finesse moves. In the end he dressed out for 47 games, registering 13 points for 3 goals and 10 assists along with a +/- of +21 and 154 PIMs, meeting the coaches’ Bobby Lowes and Chad Mercier expectations. Trojovsky performed also in three playoff contests, in which he notched 1 assist, a +/- of +2 and 18 PIMs.

Trojovsky returned for his sophomore WHL campaign in a good shape, making use of all his previous experience. The player was nicknamed ‘Pig’ because of his love of food or ‘Juice’ because he prefers to drink juices. He was paired with Brennan Chapman for most of the season and the two formed a solid duo for the Pats. Unfortunately the team suffered a first-round playoff exit after five games at the hands of the Brandon Wheat Kings. Even after Filip Novak’s graduation from the junior ranks Matej Trojovsky wasn’t the only Czech player on the Pats team, this season he guided Washington Capitals’ draft pick Petr Dvorak in his rookie WHL season. Overall Trojovsky didn’t improve his offensive output significantly but served as a reliable physical force in his own zone. He was there to protect the teammates and often dropped the gloves. After Ondrej Wantulok from the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan had Matej Trojovsky the biggest number of fights from all the Czech players in the entire CHL, showing his nasty edge. He played nearly the complete schedule of the regular season, finishing at 70 games played, with 9 points for 3 goals and 6 assists. That with a +/- of -12 and respectable 229 PIMs.

Matej Trojovsky is working out every summer with NHLers Petr Sykora from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Pavel Trnka from the Florida Panthers. Leading the workouts is experienced coach Miroslav Prerost, who already guided several Czech players to the NHL. Trojovsky benefits from his coaching methods and is happy to practice with his hockey role model, Pavel Trnka. Trojovsky respects Trnka’s achievements and a good attitude towards hockey which makes Trnka the player after whom he patterns his game.

Unlike some of the Czech CHL players, Matej Trojovsky is continuing his education in North America. He is about to graduate from the O’Neill High School in Regina next year. In Canada he learned how to play golf which is now one of his favorite sports, just like tennis. Most of the Czech players like to play soccer in their free time, but Matej Trojovsky is an exceptation there, he isn’t the best soccer player. As mentioned, Trojovsky is a fond of good food, with steaks and chicken being the favorites. Matej also eats lots of pasta and sea food. A music fan, Matej Trojovsky prefers to listen to rock or metal music, Metallica is the group Trojovsky likes best.

Now the NHL Entry Draft awaits Matej Trojovsky. Ranked 157th among North American skaters on the CSB final rankings, he has hopes of being selected in the late rounds of the draft. Playing in the NHL is of course his biggest dream.